Progress in Five Nations talks

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The Independent Online
The Rugby Football Union's top officials spent a gruelling day in London yesterday trying to thrash out ways of saving the Five Nations' Championship. The upshot of their six-hour meeting was a terse but optimistic statement and a reiteration of their resolve to save the jewel in the northern hemisphere's rugby crown.

The statement described the meeting as constructive and went on: "The RFU executive... has agreed positive proposals to put to its colleagues in the Five Nations... We trust this will result in allowing the negotiations to continue to a satisfactory conclusion, so that the Five Nations can be retained."

Although Twickenham would not reveal just what these proposals are, a broad outline will be communicated in a letter from the RFU president, John Richardson, to the other home union presidents that will be sent out today. The stance adopted by Wales, Ireland and Scotland is that Twickenham should return to the table for joint negotiations for television rights. Their first attempt in Cardiff last week ended in total rejection, with the others not being convinced of the acceptability of satellite TV as the exclusive live electronic medium.

Lawrence Dallaglio, the Wasps flanker widely tipped to succeed Will Carling as England captain, said: "There's concern among the players as to what is going on but our message to the officials is `don't panic'. We have been advised there will be a satisfactory resolution to the dispute. No doubt as much is being done as is possible but we have all got our minds focused on the start of the season with our clubs at the moment."